Biden-Sanders task force comes short of calling to legalize marijuana

The camps of presumed 2020 Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden and former rival Sen. Bernie Sanders have come together to hammer out joint policy recommendations to unite the moderate and progressive wings of the party — but marijuana was one issue they could not agree on.

Sanders vowed to legalize marijuana via executive order on his first day in office. Biden, however, has been reluctant to call for legalizing pot.

As a compromise, the “Unity Task Force” instead calls for rescheduling the drug and decriminalizing its use, legalizing it at the federal level only for medical use.

The difference is this: Decriminalization would only relax penalties for marijuana use and possession. Full legalization would open the doors for marijuana to be regulated and taxed on the federal level.

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New York looked poised to legalize marijuana in 2020. Then COVID struck. Here’s what is next

Count legal marijuana in New York among the victims of COVID-19, along with the hundreds of millions in tax dollars and thousands of jobs legalization might have generated.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on the last day of March that the state’s spring legislative session was “effectively over” after several state lawmakers tested positive for the coronavirus.

They came back in June to address COVID-related issues, but didn’t address other outstanding issues.

Among the unfinished items Cuomo said would have to wait until next year was the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use. Of the eight other states that were poised to legalize pot this year, only three appeared on track for legal weed in 2020.

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Psychedelic mushroom legalization moves closer to appearing on Oregon ballot

A push to legalize the use of psychedelic mushrooms in therapeutic settings is one step closer to appearing on the Oregon ballot in November, The Oregonian reported.

The Oregon Psilocybin Therapy Initiative announced this week that it has received the necessary amount of signatures for the measure to appear on the ballot.

Election officials will now work to verify whether the 164,782 signatures collected are valid.

Psilocybin is currently listed as a Schedule 1 drug at the federal level, meaning the U.S. government has determined it has “a high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.”

The Oregon campaign, known as Initiative Petition (IP) #34, would legalize the use of psychedelic mushrooms in controlled doses when administered by professionals in the state.

Read more at MSN.

Why We Might See a Wave of Cannabis Legalization in 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has slowed a number of states’ efforts to legalize recreational cannabis, at least in the near term. However, it could have the opposite effect in 2021.

In an article on Barrons.com, Barron’s report Connor Smith says as many as 16 states had initially planned to include cannabis legalization issues on their ballots for the fall 2020 election. COVID-19 may have slowed that down this year, but with many states facing budget shortfalls thanks to major shutdowns in the spring, the potential tax revenues from legal cannabis could make it a major focus in 2021.

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State legislators seek kratom meeting with FDA commissioner

In a letter to FDA’s commissioner, Dr. Stephen Hahn, lawmakers from four states suggested it would be a “fool’s game” for the agency to try to keep kratom from consumers.

Four lawmakers from Arizona, Georgia, Utah and Nevada who sponsored kratom legislation in their states have requested a meeting with the top official of FDA—an agency that has long raised concerns about the safety of the botanical from Southeast Asia.

Positions held by FDA related to kratom and another botanical ingredient—CBD—were adopted long before Dr. Stephen Hahn was appointed commissioner, the lawmakers wrote to Hahn in a June 8 letter.

Read more at Natural Products Insider.

“We’re criminalizing a generation,” says one of South Dakota’s marijuana-legalization leaders

Leaders of ballot measures to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses in South Dakota rolled out for reporters a list of 50 people endorsing their efforts Wednesday.

Brendan Johnson, a past U.S. attorney for South Dakota, is sponsor of Constitutional Amendment A. It would allow people who were at least age 21 to use South Dakota-grown marijuana, or to grow, transport or distribute it in South Dakota to people who are at least 21.

A 15 percent excise tax on sales would be levied to pay for regulation by the state Department of Revenue, with any excess revenue to be split between state aid to public schools and state government’s general fund. The Legislature could adjust the rate after November 3, 2024.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

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Monroe County supervisors rescind ban on kratom

A countywide ban of the herbal product kratom put in place last spring was lifted Monday morning following a 3-2 vote by the Monroe County Board of Supervisors to rescind it.

A delegation of citizens, business owners and advocates of kratom made impassioned pleas for the supervisors to overturn the countywide ban on the controversial supplement for treating chronic pain.

Supervisors met for half an hour in executive session before going back into open session to take the vote. Supervisors Joseph Richardson, B.R. Richey and Rubel West voted in favor of rescinding the ban, while Fulton Ware and Hosea Bogan voted to keep it in force.

Representatives from the Crime and Addiction Task Force of the Lowndes County Foundation requested for the previous administration of supervisors to pass the ban last March, making it the seventh county in the region to approve a kratom ban.

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Cannabis Legalization Is Key To Economic Recovery, Much Like Ending Alcohol Prohibition Helped Us Out Of The Great Depression

Our nation is in the midst of the greatest crisis in generations, with the Covid-19 pandemic impacting Americans’ physical and emotional well-being, while plummeting the nation’s economy into the worst economic downturn in our lifetimes. As the country begins what is likely to be a slow climb out of economic morass, federal, state, and local governments will be looking for new sources of revenue to replenish dwindling budgets and provide jobs to millions of Americans who find themselves out of work.

The situation is reminiscent of what the country faced during the Great Depression nearly 100 years ago. At that time, one of the government’s solutions was to end its 13-year experiment with alcohol prohibition. Today, the very same factors that caused the government to pull the plug on alcohol prohibition should result in the final nail in the coffin of the country’s much longer standing but equally unjust policy of marijuana prohibition.

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Cannabis and COVID-19: Pandemic’s Impact on Legalization and Legislation

By early 2020, marijuana had made tremendous strides toward legalization—for either medicinal or recreational purposes—in most states and even implicit federal recognition in the form of safe-harbor legislation for insurers and banks conducting business with the cannabis sector. But then COVID-19 struck, and progress predictably slowed. Nonetheless, unintended effects of the global pandemic may ultimately usher in a new wave of legalization and protection for marijuana businesses and the insurers and banks who work with them.

Jan. 1 marked the first day of adult-use marijuana sales in Illinois, the latest state to legalize marijuana for adults and the first to provide a comprehensive legal blueprint in the form of legislation that addresses everything from taxation to social justice. In all, at the beginning of 2020, medical marijuana was legal in 33 states, and another 11 had legalized recreational adult use, with several other states—most notably, New York and New Jersey—making a big push to do the same, despite marijuana’s continued illegal status at the federal level.

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Most People In Recreational Marijuana States Believe Legalization Is A Success, Poll Finds

People who live in states that have legalized marijuana for adult use broadly feel that the policy has been a success, according to a new poll.

A majority of people from eight states that were surveyed said the programs are working well. And in Maine, which legalized cannabis in 2016 but still doesn’t have any adult-use retail shops open, people still said the law is more of a success than a failure by a greater than two-to-one plurality.

YouGov asked more than 32,000 people the following question: “In the states that have decided to allow recreational marijuana use, do you think the legislation has been a success or a failure?”

They were given five options: “Success only, more of a success than a failure, more of a failure than a success, failure only or don’t know.”

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Oregon CBD company’s lawsuit claims botched extraction led to legal woes, losses

The Oregon CBD company that beat back felony marijuana charges last year in Linn County is in court again, alleging that a botched extraction job got it into that legal mess and cost it a ton of money.

Key Compounds LLC is suing Phasex Corp. and its president, claiming the Massachusetts company was negligent and in breach of contract when it allegedly shipped Key Compounds a batch of hemp oil that far exceeded the legal limit for the intoxicating compound THC.

The shipment — its odor, specifically — caught the attention of a UPS employee in Albany. That set off a chain of events that included a law enforcement raid on Key Compounds’ own local extraction facility and felony marijuana charges against CEO Alex Reyter and another employee.

Read the full story at Portland Business Journal.

DMAA ruling has broader implications for botanicals

Eight years ago, U.S. regulators cautioned 1,3-dimethylamylamine was an unlawful ingredient in dietary supplement products.

Several companies received warning letters in 2012 over the then-popular ingredient known simply as DMAA, which FDA described as an “amphetamine derivative” posing health risks that may lead to such cardiovascular problems as arrhythmias, heart attack or shortness of breath.

Todd Harrison, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who advises clients on FDA regulations, agreed the vast majority of companies that receive warning letters from FDA try to address the agency’s concerns.

“I would say 90% of them do,” he said in an interview.

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Why is Marijuana Legalization Not Covered in Mainstream Media?

One of the things I have said often in speeches and written about is that the best two-word explanation for marijuana prohibition is bad journalism. You’ll hear that again, and again.

There are so many examples of that. Don’t get me started.

I remember, for example, when I was at NORML, there was a really terrible article in The Washington Times which tends to specialize in articles about marijuana in particular. So I called up the reporter and said, “Could I send you some material that contradicts the party line?” She said, “Oh, I’d love to see it, but that, you know, there’s really no point in it. I was just given this assignment. I probably will be writing about it again.” But what I had to do was to call the drug czars office and get them to say something. And that was journalism dealing with marijuana. You know, it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. And this went on for decades.

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A State-by-State Breakdown of CBD Laws

When it comes to the legal status of products containing cannabidiol (CBD), much attention has been paid to what’s happening at the federal level. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the substance with the caveat that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has oversight. The FDA has stated that CBD is not permitted in food, beverages and ingestible products until the agency creates a regulatory pathway for companies to do so—with no timetable of when that might happen.

Even if the FDA OKed ingestible CBD products tomorrow, however, it wouldn’t mean those products would be legal in every state. Each state regulates hemp and CBD differently, creating a patchwork of regulations that’s being tracked by the cannabis site Leafly.

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North Dakota Activists Say Marijuana Legalization Initiative Unlikely In 2020 Due To Coronavirus

North Dakota activists announced on Thursday that they are suspending their campaign put marijuana legalization on the November ballot due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a Facebook post, Legalize ND said “we are going to have to face a few hard realities going forward” as businesses are shuttering, public events are being cancelled and individuals are encouraged to shelter in place. The pandemic means in-person signature gathering can’t take place, and the state does not allow for alternative signing options such as by mail or online.

“Due to the virus all of our major avenues for signature collection have been cancelled or indefinitely postponed, and going door to door is not safe for both those knocking and those getting knocked,” the group said.

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Mississippi Steps Back From Regulating or Outlawing Kratom

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi legislators have killed bills that would either ban or regulate kratom, an herbal drug that can be used for pain relief.

Kratom is currently unregulated in most parts of the United States, but has been outlawed by a few local governments in Mississippi amid concerns that it can be harmful.

Kratom is derived from a tree that’s native to Southeast Asia. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says the leaves can be crushed and then smoked, put into capsules or taken with water or other liquids.

The DEA characterizes kratom as one of its “drugs of concern.” The agency says people have used it to relieve muscle strains and as a substitute for opium; the drug has also been used to manage withdrawal symptoms from opioids.

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FDA Finally Sends Overdue CBD Enforcement Update To Congress

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an update to Congress this week on the status of rulemaking for CBD.

While the process remains ongoing, the agency announced that it is actively exploring pathways to allow for the marketing of cannabidiol as a dietary supplement and is developing enforcement discretion guidance. It will also be reopening a public docket to solicit additional scientific information about the risk and benefits of the cannabis compound.

After hemp and its derivatives were federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, FDA was mandated under separate appropriations legislation passed late last year to provide an update on its regulatory approach to CBD within 60 days. That deadline passed last month, but the report and a supplementary notice were made public on Thursday.

Read more at Marijuana Moment

Vape Pen Lung Disease Has Insiders Eyeing Misuse of New Additives

“SAN FRANCISCO—During alcohol prohibition, drinkers had to worry about getting sick and dying from “bathtub gin.” This week, vapers are learning of similar quality control issues with cannabis oil vape cartridges purchased on the illegal market.

A rash of tainted THC vape cartridge poisonings is thought to have claimed one life in Illinois and caused lung inhalation injuries to as many as 215 people in 25 states, according to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conference call last Friday, and updates Aug. 30.

California now has 24 suspected cases of the hyper-inflammatory lung response, first identified by doctors in the Central Valley town of Hanford on Aug. 14 after recognizing that seven young adults had all suffered from sudden acute respiratory distress in the past month. The common thread: Each patient had purchased disposable, THC-filled vaporizer cartridges from illegal street markets.

Nearly All Cases in the Illegal States

Most importantly, no cases are associated with adult-use or medical cannabis products from legal state-licensed stores. Almost all affected states do not have adult-use legalization in effect. They include Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. Additional states are pending verification. The California incidents occurred in Kings County, which has banned licensed cannabis stores.

West Coast Carts, Dank Vapes Named

In Wisconsin, a family member of a victim there said another suspected tainted cartridge came from an illicit-market brand called “Dank Vapes.” Medical and adult-use cannabis products are not legal in Wisconsin.

Neither brand is traceable to a single company. Outside of a state-regulated system, anyone can order vape packaging and fill it with their choice of ingredients.

The CDC is not sure whether the national reports are all linked to a common contaminant or a combination of toxins. Officials are not sure if every patient has the same illness or when the series of respiratory injuries really began. They’re just starting to coordinate information collection among the states, agency officials said last Friday.

Continue reading at Leafly

STUDY: Cannabis Oil Improves Crohn’s Disease Symptoms

According to a new study, cannabis oil can “significantly” improve Crohn’s disease symptoms.

“(S)tudies have shown that many people with Crohn’s disease use cannabis regularly to relieve their symptoms,” Dr. Timna Naftali, an Israeli gastroenterologist who also teaches at Tel Aviv University, said in a written statement. “It has always been thought that this improvement was related to a reduction in inflammation in the gut and the aim of this study was to investigate this.”

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can cause severe belly pain and chronic diarrhea.

Dr. Naftali, whose study is being billed as the first of its kind, found that an eight-week treatment with cannabis oil containing a four to one CBD to THC ratio produced clinical remission in up to 65 percent of individuals with Crohn’s disease. The randomized, placebo-controlled study involved 50 people with moderately severe forms of the disease. The group that received cannabis oil also reported significant improvements in their quality of life.

Read more at CTV News

Spanbauer: Modernize The War On Drugs

Canada just became the second country in the world to legalize marijuana on Oct. 17, making it “the largest national marijuana marketplace.”

In order to facilitate the demand on the new industry, Canadian recreational marijuana businesses are trying to lure inexperienced marijuana workers and their weed wisdom from states where marijuana is legal, such as Colorado. These offers come with the possibility of salaries reaching as high as $250,000 and the promise of a larger and undeveloped market to conquer.

The federal legalization of marijuana now seems eminently upon us as more states will vote on the matter in the upcoming November elections. Also, more than half the United States population is in support of federal legalization. However, looking at how far cannabis culture has come, it is clear that federal measures must be taken for reasons of equality.

America should take a page from Canada’s book and legalize recreational marijuana. This should be done for hundreds of reasons, the least of which being because over half of our population is in favor of it, and because it would introduce billions of dollars into our economy and open up new jobs. This needs to be done because marijuana is a harmless drug that should not be federally regulated in the ways that physically addictive and life-destroying drugs such as opioids are.

The focus needs to move from pot to the more serious drugs affecting our streets and taking the lives of young people across the nation. Once we can begin to reform drug legislation to fit these needs, our country will finally begin to heal.

Read the full article at Iowa State Daily