First pot, then magic mushrooms? Decriminalization is spreading

As cannabis legalization spreads across the globe, another mind-altering drug is trying to follow in its tracks: magic mushrooms.

Denver voted in May to decriminalize the fungus that contains psilocybin, a psychedelic compound popularized by ’60s counterculture. Oakland, California followed Denver’s lead a few weeks later and Oregon is trying to get a similar measure on the ballot for 2020.

Advocates say mushrooms have untapped medical potential that could be as big as cannabis, particularly for treating depression and addiction. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted “breakthrough therapy” status in October to Compass Pathways Ltd. to test the drug for treatment-resistant depression, expediting the development process. The London-based company says it’s now proceeding with a large-scale clinical trial in Europe and North America.

Read more at BNN Bloomberg

FDA Head Wants New Regulations for Kratom and CBD

The head of the Food and Drug Administration says his agency will need new authority from Congress to regulate both kratom and cannabidiol (CBD), two natural substances used by millions of Americans to self-treat their pain and other medical conditions.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf testified on Thursday before a House Appropriations subcommittee, where he was asked why the agency was slow in developing new regulations for CBD and why it remained opposed to the use of kratom. Califf said new regulatory pathways were needed for both substances because they fall between the cracks of existing law that gives the FDA broad authority to regulate food and drugs.

“I don’t think the current authority we have, on the food side and the drug side, necessarily gives us what we need to have to get the right pathway to move us forward. We’re going to have to come up with something new. I’m very committed to doing that,” said Califf.

Read more at Pain News Network

Top Federal Drug Official Pressed On Marijuana, Kratom And Drug Decriminalization At Congressional Hearing

Several congressional lawmakers pressed a top federal drug official on Wednesday about their concerns over marijuana legalization, though they seemed to signal that they view the reform as inevitable.

Members of the House Appropriations subcommittee for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies directed several cannabis questions at National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow. Lawmakers also talked about the therapeutic potential of kratom, as well as broader drug decriminalization issues.

Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) broadly asked Volkow about any “problems” she’s focused on with respect to cannabis legalization. But while he signaled he’s opposed to the reform, the congressman also said the “horse is already out of the barn probably” as more states adopt legalization and Congress moves to end federal prohibition.

Keep reading at Marijuana Moment

Democratic lawmakers call for recreational marijuana legalization

Democratic lawmakers want to legalize marijuana, and they’re urging Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature to do it now.

Thus far, Democrats have proposed at least 10 marijuana-related bills in the 2022 Legislative Session. At least one measure would outright legalize marijuana (HB 467), while another would decriminalize the drug and other addictive substances.

All will face an uphill battle in Tallahassee.

“A bill legalizing marijuana has never been heard in the Florida House,” Democratic Rep. Yvonne Hinson said at a Thursday news conference. “That needs to change this year. States are legalizing cannabis all over the nation, and Florida is falling behind.”

States including New York, Virginia and New Mexico legalized recreational marijuana in 2021 via voter initiatives. Meanwhile, three states — Arizona, Montana and New Jersey — OK’d recreational marijuana use in 2020 via legislation.

Get the full story at the Fernandina Observer.

Marijuana is legal in Virginia but not on college campuses, causing confusion over what’s allowed

Marijuana is legal in the state of Virginia now, but the drug is still banned on college campuses. This added wrinkle has caused confusion over whether students and employees can possess it, where they can carry it or consume it, and whose rules they might be breaking by doing so.

When the General Assembly passed the law this year, it included several caveats. The user must be 21 years old, marijuana can’t be consumed in public, and possessing more than an ounce is illegal.

Colleges added or reminded students of another rule: Bringing the drug onto campus violates their anti-drug policies. While there is no statewide policy, many colleges in Virginia independently came to the conclusion that they couldn’t allow marijuana without risking the loss of federal funding for failing to comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.

Keep reading at Richmond.com.

Amazon Is Lobbying the U.S. to Legalize Weed

Amazon is ramping up its pro-weed campaign, announcing on Tuesday that it is actively lobbying for legislative reforms aimed at decriminalization and reaffirming its commitment to not screening job applicants for cannabis.

Beth Galetti, Amazon’s senior vice president of human resources, declared in a blog post the company’s support for two pieces of legislation aimed at decriminalizing cannabis nationwide. The move comes amid expanding legalization at the state level, with 36 states allowing some level of public access to cannabis and 18 states plus Washington, DC, legalizing recreational adult use.

The first is the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act), introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, which would remove cannabis from the federal government’s list of controlled substances, effectively decriminalizing it at the federal level.

Keep reading at Gizmodo.

N.J. has dismissed 88K weed cases under new marijuana law

ew Jersey has vacated or dismissed tens of thousands of marijuana convictions as the state continues to work out the details of its new legal cannabis market.

The state Judiciary has dealt with 88,000 cases so far, it announced Monday evening. These are the first wave of an estimated 360,000 identified that qualify for expungement.

Cases that have been vacated or dismissed still need to be expunged. That’s the step that ultimately clears a person’s record. That phase will come in the next few months, according to the judiciary.

A state Supreme Court order issued earlier this month laid out a process for vacating, expunging and dismissing certain marijuana offenses from people’s records. These include selling less than one ounce of marijuana and possession, as well as related crimes like possession of drug paraphernalia, being under the influence, failing to turn over marijuana or being or possessing marijuana while in vehicle.

Read the full story at NJ.com.

St. Louis CBD retailer ‘blacklisted’ by credit card company, lawsuit claims

A St. Louis-based CBD retailer is fighting credit card company Visa in court, alleging the business has been unfairly blacklisted, according to a lawsuit that moved forward in federal court this week.

The suit was first brought in 2018 by MNG 2005 Inc., parent company of CBD Kratom, which has 40 retail stores across the U.S., including 14 in St. Louis.

The company claims that in March 2018 it contracted with JPMorgan Chase Bank to process credit card payments for online orders, but the company got a warning from a Visa contractor, G2 Web Services, that CBD Kratom was added to a “blacklist” because it was engaging in illegal activity and was part of a law enforcement investigation.

Chase in response shut down the retailer’s account on May 1, 2018, and withheld $66,500 in payments from customers, the suit claims.

Read more at St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Sen. Scutari, author of N.J. legal weed proposal, talks possible legalization Tuesday at public forum

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari is author of the adult-use, recreational marijuana legalization bill that never made it to the Senate for a full vote. You know by now New Jersey cannabis legalization is Public Question 1 (on the other side of the ballot if you haven’t voted yet).

If the ballot question passes — which seems likely considering most New Jersey voters support legalization according to several polls — Scutari’s bill will be used as a framework to draft enabling legislation.

On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Scutari will join NJ Cannabis Insider reporter Justin Zaremba for a discussion about what the future of cannabis in the state may look like after Nov. 3. The half-hour program, which starts at 1 p.m., will be streamed live on NJ.com’s Facebook page.

Scutari told NJ Cannabis Insider recently he is reviewing with the state Assembly the legislation he drafted that would regulate and tax weed and end arrests for possession.

Keep reading at NJ.com

How you can help 6 state legalization campaigns right now

In the final two-week run-up to Election Day on Nov. 3, legalization efforts in six states are looking for a final push to win over undecided voters.

Here’s how you can help.

Arizona

Prop. 207, adult-use legalization, is gaining support among Arizona voters as Election Day nears. In a mid-October poll, 56% of contacted voters approved of Prop. 207, while 36% opposed and 7% were undecided.

To move those undecideds into the approval category, the Smart and Safe Arizona campaign can use your help.

Mississippi

Mississippi’s Medical Marijuana 2020 campaign has a tough challenge: Convince residents to vote for Initiative 65 (the real legalization measure) and not Initiative 65A (the fake measure).

Every dime makes a difference! Donate here.

New Arizona Polls Show Narrow Support for Legalization

Arizona voters will likely support cannabis legalization during November’s General Election as a new Suffolk University/USA TODAY Network poll found 45.6 percent back the reforms with 34.2 percent opposed, AZ Central reports.

The poll comes about one month out from the election.

The poll did find 19.2 percent of respondents were still undecided – a large enough cohort to defeat the initiative. In 2016, Arizona voters narrowly rejected the reforms 52-48 percent.

The poll found 59 percent of Democrats support Proposition 207, with 20 percent opposed and 21 percent undecided. Just 30 percent of Republicans said they supported the reforms, with 50 percent opposed and 20 percent undecided.

A separate poll by Smart and Safe Arizona – the campaign behind the initiative – released last week found 50 percent support and 34 percent opposed, according to the report.

Keep reading

Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf, Lt. Gov. Fetterman Again Urge Lawmakers To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman are once again urging lawmakers to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous disruptions to the economy and with the additional federal aid stagnating in Congress, we need to do everything we can right here in Harrisburg right now to help ourselves to recover from this pandemic,” Wolf said.

“Legalizing cannabis is serious policy for serious times. I put this challenge out against to the legislature,” Fetterman said. “We’re talking about generating billions in long-term revenue for Pennsylvania, we’re talking about generating tens of thousands of jobs.”

Pennsylvania’s Republican-led Assembly has previously opposed the legalization. They said a bill would need to work its way through the Senate Committee Process to be vetted.

Read more at CBS

House committee passes two resolutions authored by Struzzi

State Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, announced Wednesday that the House Health Committee has passed two resolutions he authored. House Resolution 459 would request guidelines for the commercial sale of CBD products from the Food and Drug Administration. House Resolution 460 would request guidance and appropriate protocol from the FDA for the safe use of Kratom.

“The affects of these products are still relatively unknown. Without oversight from the FDA, there is a lack of consistency in the market. This leads to retailers not being fully knowledgeable about the products they sell, and consumers not being fully knowledgeable about the products they purchase,” Struzzi said in a news release. “My resolutions would go a long way in providing clear guidelines for the sale and use of these products so retailers and consumers know they are being safe and responsible.”

Read more here

Where Do Biden and Trump Stand on Cannabis Legalization?

These days, it is pretty clear that Americans are finally ready to end federal cannabis prohibition. Eleven states and Washington, D.C., have already legalized the plant for recreational use, and more than half of the country lives in a state with some form of medical marijuana law on the books. In the latest national opinion polls released by both Pew and Gallup, more than two-thirds of Americans said they were ready to see cannabis legalized across the country. In Congress, a bill to fully legalize weed has more than 70 co-sponsors and could see a full House vote before the year is up.

But with the 2020 presidential election just months away, the future of marijuana legalization will likely rest on the shoulders of whoever is sitting in the Oval Office come January. So how do Donald Trump and Joe Biden feel about legalizing weed?

Find out at Complex

Wall Street donors are racing to back psychedelic therapy

Psychedelics are the next billion dollar industry, according to market analysts, and investors and donors are taking note.

Over the past six months, $30 million in donations has gone to the nonprofit funding research into MDMA-assisted therapy, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), according to the group’s announcement on Aug. 20. Major donors, who each donated at least $1 million, include GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons, hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen, and Joby Pritzker, co-founder of Tao Capital Management and part of the family behind Hyatt Hotels.

MDMA isn’t the only psychedelic gaining support. Earlier this month, the Canadian government ruled that four citizens could legally use psilocybin (the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms), to treat end-of-life anxiety. Meanwhile, clinical studies on psilocybin are racing towards the final stages of trials at a similar pace to MDMA, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved its second ketamine-based treatment for depression.

Read more at MSN

Cannabis Legalization Officially Added To Arizona Ballot

Arizona voters will have a chance this year to make their state the latest to end pot prohibition.

A petition spearheaded by a pro-legalization group had its signatures officially certified by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on Monday, clearing the way for the proposal to qualify for the state’s ballot this November.

Hobbs, a Democrat, said on Twitter that the “the petition exceeded the minimum requirement with approximately 255,080 valid signatures,” and that the measure will appear on the ballot as Prop. 207.

The petition was circulated by Smart and Safe Arizona, a group that has centered its pitch for legalization around economic opportunity for the state, saying that a marijuana industry would create jobs and opportunities, with revenue providing “additional resources for police training, enforcement and task forces,” as well as more funding for the state’s community colleges. The group said it had submitted more than 420,000 signatures.

Keep reading

Petition to legalize natural psychedelic drugs in Canada signed 13,000 times

A petition that will go before the House of Commons and calls for the legalization of natural psychoactive drugs has gained over 13,000 signatures.

After it was posted on Apr.18, Trevor Millar, Chair of Board for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, says the petition gained a whopping 500 signatures in a mere 12 hours.

So far, Ontario has the lion’s share of signatures, with 4,746. B.C. follows in second with 3,698 and Alberta comes third with 1,918.

MP Paul Manly of the Nanaimo—Ladysmith Green Party Caucus is sponsoring the petition, which will close for signatures on Aug. 14. As such, Millar tells Vancouver Is Awesome in a phone call that he hopes people will take time to understand what the petition is about.

“It is only about legalizing natural substances right now,” says Millar. “Things that grow from the ground.”

Read more at Tricity News

Cannabiz: Study finds lower crime rates after legalization, more

Opponents of legalizing adult-use marijuana have long held that legalization would lead to higher crime rates in and around the areas where pot shops were commonplace. While various studies have fallen on either end of this argument for years, a new study of crime data in areas within and surrounding Washington and Colorado suggests legalization may not lead to higher crime after all, though the study is limited. Washington and Colorado were chosen for the study as they were the first two states to legalize marijuana, in 2012.

The study, conducted by Guangzhen Wu of the University of Utah, Francis D. Boateng of the University of Mississippi and Thomas Roney, an economic consultant, was published in the Journal of Drug Issues in late May, and has since gained national attention…

Read more at the Colorado Springs Indy

Magic mushrooms should be made legal in the same way as cannabis so they can be used to treat depression, leading doctors say

Magic mushrooms should be rescheduled in Britain to treat depression, top doctors have said.

Leading experts have called for a change in the law to allow ‘shrooms’ to be used in a similar way as medicinal cannabis.

But they said recreational use would remain illegal, with Brits caught in possession of the Class A drug facing a jail-term of up to seven years.

Scientific studies have repeatedly shown psilocybin — the psychoactive chemical in magic mushrooms — has promise in boosting mental health, fighting off depression and helping PTSD sufferers.

Experts from Oxford, Manchester and King’s College London universities have called for magic mushrooms to be rescheduled.

Psilocybin is currently listed as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning it’s thought to have no medicinal value and therefore cannot be legally possessed or prescribed.

Keep reading here

Lawsuit Filed To Block Arizona Cannabis Legalization Initiative

Opponents of a voter initiative that would legalize the recreational use of cannabis in Arizona have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the measure. Supporters of the initiative, known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, submitted more than 420,000 signatures earlier this month, far more than the 238,000 needed to qualify the measure for the ballot in the November general election.

If passed, the measure would legalize cannabis for use by adults and create a legal framework to regulate and tax commercial marijuana production and sales. The office of the Arizona Secretary of State is currently verifying the signatures to ensure that enough registered voters have signed to have the initiative included on this fall’s ballot.

Read more here…